Opinion

Proposed Kirkland budget is community-focused and balanced | City Manager

Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett - Contributed
Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett
— image credit: Contributed

On Oct. 16, I proposed a $540 million budget to the public and to the Kirkland City Council that is fiscally disciplined, financially sound, and most importantly, reflects the priorities of the community.

Kirkland’s discipline can be found in the “Price of Government,” an innovative metric championed by Redmond Mayor John Marchione. The price of government is the total money paid to the city (taxes, fees and utility bills) divided by the per capita income. For an “affordable” city, that number should be between 5-6 percent of income.

Kirkland’s price of government is an impressively low 3 percent. And despite increased service demand, our budget (without the levies) proposes six fewer employees than the year before. Kirkland residents should be confident that we strive for improved service at the lowest possible price.

Two compasses guided our budget proposal: The council’s “quality of life” goals and the biennial community survey as reflected in the “Kirkland Quadrant Chart” of priorities and performance. Details of each are found in the budget message. When faced with tough choices, we chose options that were most important to citizens or furthered council goals.

These tools have been essential to a budget that has been fundamentally recalibrated by one of the largest annexations in state history and one of the deepest recessions in national history. They helped us close Kirkland’s third straight budget gap — projected at $7.7 million this spring.

The proposed budget is balanced, efficient, and will help retain our AAA credit rating. It invests in our old and new neighborhoods. It shows how the city will spend the road and park levies if they pass so residents know exactly what they will get for their money. With predictable revenues, the budget rebuilds our reserves and prepares for the future equipment needs of police and fire and information technology.

It protects the values that our citizens espouse and the safety they require by investing in the city’s Fire Strategic Plan and its yet-to-be constructed Public Safety Building that will, for the first time, consolidate Kirkland’s police, corrections and court services under one roof.

The 462 page document is more than a list of expenditures, just as Kirkland is more than a list of buildings and streets. Our community has a heart and soul.

By using the council goals and the community survey as our touchstones, the heart and soul of this budget is a direct reflection of the heart and soul of this great city.

By prioritizing the council’s goals and the citizen survey, we are being accountable to you, the residents of Kirkland, and the city council members you elect to represent you. This preliminary budget is a conversation starter.

We are now reaching out through study sessions, public hearings, our cable show, Currently Kirkland, and through Budget Bylines, a news-style publication designed to examine the budget process, our leaders’ choices and the implications of those choices.

Call us. E-mail us. Visit www.kirklandwa.gov/budget. We hope to hear from you especially at or before the Nov. 7  public hearing.

Kurt Triplett is Kirkland’s city manager.

 

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